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Featured Article: Our Black Shepherds - Given the traditional European/American profile of the Church in the United States, there has always been urgings from the smaller ethnic groupings, Hispanic, African American, Italian, Polish, Asian, etc to have episcopal representation. And each group has its own story to tell with getting bishops appointed. Read Full Story

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Lent to Easter: Preparation for Celebration

It hardly seems that Christmas is over and already we are in the midst of Lent. Such is sometimes the case with the moveable feasts of the Liturgical year. As the calendar falls, we have a very early Lent this year. Only five weeks into Ordinary Time and Ash Wednesday was beckoning us to the annual spiritual journey of repentance, conversion, and rededication to the mysteries to which we were first introduced when we were baptized. "Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return!" "Repent and believe in the Gospel!" Both of these acclamations broke into our post-Christmas lull and once again reminded us that the Christian Life calls us to be ever-poised to be in the service of the Lord, to be on the "Battlefield" for Our Lord. Our Marching Orders don't come on our time schedule but on the Lord's. The great question that remains to be answered is whether or not we are ready to respond.

One of the great benefits of the Liturgical Calendar is that it structures the faith life and prayer life of the Church in such manner that the Sacred Mysteries of salvation are regularly placed before our hearts and minds for contemplation, prayer, and active response. It goes without saying that this quality of the Liturgical life of the Church will only have an impact on the lives of those who actively integrate it into their own spiritual lives. In other words, if one is to live a fully Catholic spiritual life, keeping in mind that the spiritual life itself must be integrated into every other aspect of one's earthly sojourn, then one must live a truly Liturgical life. Hence the seasons celebrated by the Church must also be celebrated by the believer, individually, in the home, in school or the workplace, wherever the Christian finds him or herself.

That is why, even though it seems that Christmas was just yesterday, we Catholics must now be fully in tune with the spirit, the themes, the signs and symbols, and the meaning of Lent, as Lent leads us through the purgative experience so necessary for a truly meaningful and rightly joyful celebration of the Easter mystery. Our Christian calling and our Catholic faith require us to be in a state of extended meditation on the mystery of Jesus' Passion and Death, as that mystery is unfolded during Lent. This becomes ever more clear as the Lenten Season culminates with Holy Week and the uniquely beautiful and instructive celebrations of the Easter Triduum. The Catholic who opts out of these celebrations is like the student who skips class. When exam time comes, he just won't be prepared!

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